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a probing look at 
the difference! 

the qilas and the balls!!! 

HH f A ] A 

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Editorial Director 


Art Director 


Associate Editor 


Editorial Consultant 


Editorial Assistant 


Another round in our editor’s 
personal fashion show 
featuring the look of the 
Orient, the East and the 


A true professional with a 
Monroe look guaranteed to 
excite and astound! 


A journey through some of 
LA.’s top-rated contests, 
featuring the winners and the 


A true vixen, a female of many 
moods and erotic desires. 

BATTLE OF THE V.l. P.’S . 28 

The best and the brightest, 
on stage for your pleasure! 


A probing look into the 
difference, how it confuses 
and how it works. 


A beautiful and exotic being, 
one destined for fame and 


Fassbinder’s latest, a probing 
look into the world of the 


The search continues, and 
Les Girls is there to record it! 

LES GIRLS (Volume 1, Number 3, November, December 1980, January 1981), is published quarterly by Holly Publications, Hollywood, California. 
Copyright ® 1980 by Holly Publications. All rights reserved on entire contents. Nothing may be reproduced, in whole or in part, without written 
permission from the publisher. The publisher assumes no responsibility for unsolicited materials. All manuscripts, photos and/or artwork must be 
accompanied by return postage. All photos in this publication were posed by professional models unless otherwise noted. Neither said photos, nor 
words used to describe them, are intended to depict the actual conduct or personality of the model(s). All models are ( 18) years of age or older. No in- 
formation on models will be released. Any similarity between real persons and characters depicted in fiction or semi-fiction is purely coincidental. 
Printed in the U.S.A. 


The transsexual community 
has long suffered as an un- 
derground sexual lifestyle. The 
mainstream of society has ten- 
ded to regard the transsexuai 
as a freak, a sexuai being 
whose presence is indicative of 
some kind of generai 
degeneracy in society. The 
media has treated the tran- 
ssexuais in the same manner, 
expioiting their sexuai prociivity 
as some kind of bizarre and 
humorous episode in the 
parade of human nature. The 
transsexual community has 
iong searched for a champion, 
someone with the power and 
the resources to teii their story 
as it reaiiy exists. So, when 
Western International ap- 
proached the transsexual 
community with their project, 
“Vera”, the enthusiasm was 
rampant. Here was a produc- 
tion company wanting to do a 
fiim on transsexuals, a love 
story which wouid hopefully 
show the reality of trans- 
sexuaiism as it exists today. 
Auditions for “Vera” were heid 
on the west coast and in the 
east, and hundreds of trans- 
sexuais aiiowed themseives to 
be videotaped in the hopes of 
getting a part in this 
revoiutionary fiim. in doing so, 
each hopefui signed a reiease 
giving the producers fuil rights 
to the taped audition. Now, 
some ten months after the 
auditions, there is no fiim, no 
scheduie of shooting, not even 
a star. The rumors floating 
within the underground say that 

the producers have used the 
audition tapes to construct a 
documentary film about trans- 
sexuals; and that these same 
producers have actually sold 
this fiim overseas. We at Les 
Girls supported the making of 
“Vera”, and in the past issues 
have reported with great en- 
thusiasm on the progress of the 
fiim. Therefore we feli justified 
in asking the producers of 
“Vera” to step forth and clear 
the air. We therefore ask them: 
Is there going to be a film en- 
titled “Vera”? Is there any truth 
to the rumors that you have 
taken the audition tapes and 
“ripped off” the transsexuai 

community by seliing these as 
a documentary? The trans- 
sexuai community has been 
the victim of prejudice and 
misunderstanding for too iong. 
These peopie are living on the 
edge, and they are vuinerable to 
expioitation. If, indeed, you 
have exploited them, we 
chaiienge you to step forward 
and demonstrate at ieast haif 
the courage that the trans- 
sexuai community as a whole 
has shown! 


■ ".vv; 


i# M. B. In leather, demonstrating the 
™ mistress side as he purrs his way 
i through the dungeons of his mind: 
it’s M.B. as only he can be— demure, 
, , sexy and bitchy! 

M.B. as the queen, a 
Salome with a whip. The 
hair is of the highest 
fashion now on the scene, 
the robes of another era 
when women ruied the 
Nile. The look and the feel 
are as mysterious as the 
sphinx herseif. 

The Orient calls M.B. as he dons the myster- 
ious dress of the mystical ladies of the East, 
inscrutable? With M.B., it is a real possibility. 


On the right, we see the incomparable editor 
in the role of the leather mistress. 


A beauty whose Monroe imper- 
sonation has rocked the nation. 
There is no one who does it better 

Heather comes to us from 
Huntsville, Alabama, where 
she began at an early age 
transforming herself into a 
truly beautiful woman. From 
there she began traveling the 
nightclub circuit throughout 
the South, establishing a 
reputation as one of the 

' ft 

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Heather has traveled the 
world, astounding and 
delighting audiences every- 
where. But through it all she 
has remained loyal to her 
roots, returning to Huntsville 
to the open arms of her 
friends and family. Heather, a 
true home spun girl. 

In her various poses and 
costumes, Heather 
possesses the talent to 
mimic the great beauties 
of the stage and screen. 
A multi-faceted human 
being, Heather loves to 
read, to act and to 
educate herself. She 
hopes someday to find 
the right man and settle 
down to a quiet life. 


Heather is as beautiful as 
they come. Her looks have 
taken her far. But she is a 
transsexual whose sense 
goes much deeper. As a 
spokeswoman for the community, 
and as a force of the future, 
Heather’s star is just beginn- 
ing to shine! 

Every year, throughout Los Angeles, glamorous 
events are staged to choose the reigning queen of 
various balls and galas. Les Girls now takes you 
on a journey to some of the most elaborate of 
them all! 

Hollywood, California, the center 
of femaie impersonators in 
America. A city featuring the most 
dynamic and beautifui of artistes 
who have perfected the art of 
impersonating women. Typicai of 
Hoilywood, the men who entered 
the Gay West Coast” contest de- 
monstrated an incredibie taient 
with make-up, fashion and hair 
styies. This was to be expected 
since Hollywood has long been 
been the capital of illusion and 



The beauties who entered the 
“Miss Gay West Coast” contest 
demonstrated their taient and 
their beauty. They came from all 
walks of life and from ail sectors 
of the nation. Some were 
professionals, others strictly 
amateurs. Some displayed per- 
fected talent on stage while 
others showed raw genius. 

Throughout Los Angeles, the 
contests continued. The 
“Empress Ball” is one of the 
most popular and glamorous, 
being held at the Proud Bird in 
Inglewood, California. Here we 
see some of the beauties who 
participated, and the coronation 
of the queen herself. 

Santa Monica, one of the 
world’s most beautiful cities 
and sight of the Santa Monica 
Coronation. It is oniy fitting that 
the glamour and the glitter be 
staged by the sea in this gor- 
geous coastai town. The con- 
testants reflect its beauty and 


Jennifer, an exotic queen who 
brings back the beauty and the 
charm of another age. An 
exquisite statue in gold! 



The flrtanyHfnoods of Jennifer 
Teflect her complex and exotic 
belHf ; She moves quickly from 
the ancient goddess of gold to 
the modern temptress. She Is 
playful and seductive, demand- 
ing and with a touch of 
arrogance. Jennifer can change 
her moods with subtlety and 
flair, with charm and grace. She 
is never to be underestimated! 

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Jennifer lives within the land of 
royalty, where the beautiful are 
treated with the god-iike wor- 
ship due them. She stands alone 
as a true goddess, a sensuous 
beauty wrapped in the fine 
diamonds and furs of another 


Her moods shift, and her desires 
fluctuate. She is at once the 
playful innocent, turning quickly 
into the womanly temptress. 
Jennifer knows her instincts, 
and is willing to let them flow. 


They are the cream of the 
crop, the best in the busi- 
ness. Their presence turns 
heads wherever they go, 
their beauty excites and 
arouses. They are the per- 
fectionists of their craft, 
the best at what they do. 
And when they come to- 
gether to do battle, they 
reign as duelists amongst 
the gods. They are the 
warriors in the Battle of the 



On stage, they mn the 
gamut of female imperson- 
ation. From the saucy lass 
to the bitch queen, they 
present to the world the 
best of their profession. To 
watch them is to be wit- 
ness to the state of the 
art, to see the uitimate in 
female perfection. The Battle 
of the V.I.P.’s is not just a 
contest, it’s an event! 



The audience becomes as much 
a part of the show as the con- 
testants themselves. The beauti- 
ful impersonators feel no hesi- 
tation to jump off the stage and 
cavort a little with the patrons, 
showing them what makes a 
true winner. But the real essence 
of the Battle of the V.I.P.’s are 
the beautiful people— all winners! 


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If there exists one area of 
sexuality in which confusion and 
misunderstanding exist, it is 
the area of transsexualism and 
transvestism. It is very common 
to hear descriptions of trans- 
sexuals being, in fact, definitions 
of transvestites. And vice versa. 
Even those in the mass media 
seem to deal with both as one in 
the same. 

There is a tremendous dif- 
ference between a transvestite 
and a transsexual. The gap 
between the two is as wide as 
that which exists between a 
homosexual and a heterosexual. 
It is a difference that is pro- 
found and should be understood 
by everyone interested in the 
sexual climate of the 1980’s. 

The main difference between 
a transvestite and a transsexual 
is sexuality. The transvestite 
can be any number of sexual 
personalities— from a straight, 
heterosexual male to a homo- 
sexual drag queen. The trans- 
sexual, however, is distinctly 
defined as a man, or a woman, 
who identifies with the opposite 
sex. In doing so, he or she pur- 
sues dressing in the style of the 
opposite gender, and extends 
himself or herself to the final 
committment of having a sex- 
change operation. The trans- 
sexual, then, is an individual 
who seeks to become a member 
of the opposite gender, while 
the transvestite retains his or 
her sexual identity and simply 
dresses in the clothing of the 
opposite sex. 

The transvestite has been 
with us throughout the history 
of civilization. In many ancient 
tribes and societies, it was not 
uncommon for males to dress 

in the clothing of women during 
fertility rituals where the female 
was accredited with the powers 
of nature to produce a good 
crop. In the theater, especially, 
transvestism was quite pro- 
nounced. In the Orient, select 
theater groups employed young 
men to play the roles of women. 
And in the Elizabethan theater, 
where women were discouraged 
from acting on the stage, men 
constantly dressed for the part 
and played their roles. 

In the modern media, trans- 
vestism has shown itself time 
and time again. Such popular 
stars as Milton Berle made him- 
self infamous by appearing on 
the Texaco Hour, an early 
television variety show, in drag. 
And the wildly popular, “Some 
Like It Hot”, had Jack Lemmon 
and Tony Curtis parading around 
as women in their attempt to 
seduce the beautiful Marilyn 

The essential ingredient of 
these transvestite exhibitions 
was shock. Comedy has long 
employed the outrageous 
notion of a man dressed as a 
woman to incite laughter Trom 
its audiences. It is a gimmick 
that has worked time and time 
again, and still remains 
effective. And underlying that 
gimmick is one of the basic- 
motivations that drive a map 
into transvestism. ; 

The transvestite possesses 
some basic motivations that ' 
do not necessarily reflect a ^ 
sexual need. One of those is - 
his desire to shock society. 

As an act of pure rebellion, or 
even larcenous fun, many 
transvestites enjoy the reaction 
when they exhibit themselves 

Confusion over the two 
exists, but the differ- 
ence is stark! 
They are both the 
same, and they shouid 
be understood. 

in women’s clothing. Accompany- 
ing this is the desire to fool the 
public, the thrill they receive 
when they are able to pass them- 
selves off as a woman, or a man. 

Of course, there are other, 
more sexual motivations at work, 
and this is where the transvestite 
begins to move further into the 
realm of the transsexual. 

There are some transvestites 
who, for one»reason or another, 
desire to make themselves into 
beautiful women. They seek to 
equal the beauty of women, to 
realize that beauty within them- 
selves. Their dressing in women’s 
clothing allows them to compete 
with the female, and oftentimes 
allows them to seduce themselves. 
This type of transvestite truly 
begins to cross the border into 
the world of the transsexual, 
and oftentimes, it is at this stage 
that the transvestite demonstrates 
true transsexual attributes. 

Fetishism may also play a 
strong and powerful role in the 
motivations of a transvestite. 

A man who is sexually addicted 
to a certain article of clothing, 
say a pair of lace panties, may 
find that by wearing that piece 
of clothing he is integrating the 
object of his fetishism more 
profoundly into his sexual 
life. Many transvestites have 
become fixated at an early age 
by a woman and her clothing, 
a seek to duplicate the sexual 
stimulus of that fixation through 
wearing clothes that are very 
much like those worn by the 
object of the early sexual lust. 
This fetishistic element does 
not mean a man wants to become 
a woman, but only that he is 
strongly fixated by certain 
articles of clothing. 


The transvestite is considered 
psychologically harmless by 
most experts in the field. They 
cite transvestism as an innocent 
means of living out fantasies, 
of outraging people, and even 
of satisfying a fetishistic deshre. 
The problems, or the trauma, 
these experts claim, begins to 
form when the transvestite 
begins seeing himself as a woman, 
and begins feeling that he is, in 
fact, a woman trapped inside 
a man’s body. 

The most common thing you 
will hear from a transsexual is 
that they are really a member of 
the opposite sex, trapped inside 
a body dictated to them through 
the wiles of natural selection. 

In essence, this is the foundation 
of the transsexual’s motivations 
and psychology. He, or she, 
feels the presence of the op- 
posite gender to be dramatically 
overbalanced and because of 
that, seeks to somehow alter 
the natural state of his or her 

The transsexual commonly 
moves through a series of stages 
towards a full realization of a 
gender change. The first stage is 
realized normally at a young 
age, when the transsexual feels 
a definite alienation from 
members of the opposite sex. 

It is at this stage that the trans- 
sexual will often begin behaving 
like the transvestite, dressing up 
in women’s clothing (or, if a 
woman, dressing in men’s cloth- 
ing). The primary difference 

between the transvestite and 
the transsexual that will ex- 
hibit itself here is one of sex- 

While the transvestite will 
retain his or her sexuality, the 
transsexual will exhibit tendencies 
towards the opposite sex. If 
a male, he will begin to alter his 
mannerisms to those of a woman. 
Speech patterns will change, 
emotional responses will fluctu- 
ate, and the general temper of 
the individual will begin to 
lean towards that of the opposite 

In the case of some of the 
world’s most notorious trans- 
sexuals, early transgression 
towards the affected behavior 
of the opposite sex was noticed 
by parents, and the subjects 
were then taken to physicians 
who ran tests on hormone 
balance. One of these, the 
beautiful and internationally 
known Coccinelle, produced 
tests in which it was determined 
that the balance between the 
male and female hormones 
definitely leaned towards the 
female. In many cases, early 
detection of the hormone 
inblance will cause a trans- 
sexual to think over the 
proposition of taking hormones 
to emphasize that drift towards 
the opposite gender. In 
Coccinelle’s case, the hormone 
treatment worked with great 

Once the transsexual has 
passed through the early stage 
of transvestism, he or she then 
moves into an area known as 
“pre-operative” transsexualism. 

At this point, the sexuality 
of the transsexual should be 
discussed. It is commonly 
assumed that a man who wishes 
to become a woman is a homo- 
sexual. In many instances, men 
who demonstrate transsexual 
qualities are practicing homo- 
sexuals. But in truth, they are 
homosexual only because they 
are attracted to men. A homo- 
sexual is a man who seeks sex 
with other men. The transsexual 
is a man who seeks to become 
a woman, with sex almost a 
secondary consideration of that 
desire. There have been many 
cases of transsexualism in which 

the subject did not have sex 
with members of his or her own 
sex until a transformation had 
been completed. 

The transsexual, then, having 
moved from the ranks of the 
transvestite begins an earnest 
and emotionally charged voyage 
into the frontier of the opposite 
sex. Men will seek hormone 
treatments that emphasize 
the secondary female sex char- 
acteristics such as breast deveop- 
ment smoothness of the skin and 
a lessening of bodily hair. They 
will have electrolysis performed 
on them for the permanent 
removal of hair, and engage in 
skin treatments to insure them- 
selves of having a feminine tone. 

Women who are moving 
over into the other side of the 
sexual spectrum will begin 
exercising to develop their 
‘masculine’ physique, will alter 
their speech patterns and their 
dress, and essentially every- 
thing within their power to 
alter their being into that of a 

This pre-operative stage has 
provided society with a large 
number of transsexuals who 
are commonly referred to as 
‘she-males’. They represent an 
underground community of men 
who have begun the transfor- 
mation, but for one reason or 
another, have stopped short of 
having the sex change operation. 
Many of these men have had 
pastic surgery performed on 
their breasts, and as a result 
possess bountiful feminine 
breasts. And because of the 

hormone treatments and other 
procedures, their bodies have 
become rounded and quite 
feminine. Of course, they dress 
and use make-up just as a woman 
would. In essence, they are 
women— except that they still 
possess their male genitalia. 

Many of these transsexuals 
work in nightclubs which 
feature female impersonations. 
Others pursue ‘straight’ careers, 
passing themselves off as women 
and never revealing their ture 
sexual identity. Still others 
discover that the pre-operative 
stage is unsatisfactory, and seek 
to have the surgery performed 
that will transform them into a 
complete woman. 

In recent years, the sex change 
operation has gained notoriety 
through the auspices of such 
sex -change personalities as 
Renee Richards, Christine 
Jorgensen, and the afore- 
mentioned Coccinelle. Their 
stories are widely known, and 
the general public familiar with 
the irreversible committment 
that they have made. 

That committment has 
recently come under fire by 
many members of the medical 
profession. The rate of sex 
change operations is growing 
each year, with more men and 
women wishing to be operated 
on and have their sexuality 
permanently altered. The medical 
is now questioning many of the 
procedures, and the psychological 
ramifications of such an operation . 
They are asking for a govern- 
mental body of experts to 
establish a national forum to 
determine and discuss the 
effects and problems of the 
sex change operation. 

The operation itself has 
been performed on tens of 
thousands of individuals, with 
the greater number being male. 
The surgery involves the removal 
of the testicles, and then the 
hollowing out of the penis. 

The sensitive skin of the penis 
is then inverted and used as the 
inner wall of the newly 
constructed vagina. The vagina 
is constructed to be as much 
like a womans’ as possible, and 
artificial devices are placed 
inside the newly formed tube 

to guarantee that its shape is 

For women, the surgery 
involves the removal of the 
ovaries, uterus and the sealing up 
of the vagina. Artificial penises 
can now be constructed, using 
skin grafts from highly sensitized 
parts of the body. But there is 
no way for these penises to be- 
come erect and thus function 
as a normal male organ. Women 
who have had the operation 
oftentimes employ artificial 
penises to stimulate the sexual 
act. But the actual physical 
sensations enjoyed by men still 
remains out of reach. 

The pre-operative and post- 
operative transsexual represent 
a difference as profound as the 
transvestite and the transsexual. 
The pre-operative transsexual 
is still living with a choice, a 
future “solution” whereby 
all his emotional and psycho- 
logical problems will be answered 
as a result of the operation. In 
his mind, the “fantasy” of be- 
coming that which he has always 
dreamed of being rests ahead. 

The post -operative transsexual, 
however, has made his or her 
commitment and must now 
make lifestyles and emotional 
entanglements accordingly. 

There have been some famous 
cases of post-operative trans- 
sexuals that serve to illustrate 
one important point. And that 
is that once the operation is 
performed, the individual no 
longer looks upon himself or 
herself as a transsexual, but 
rather as a functioning member 
of a new sex. This factor is the 
one powerful difference between 
the transvestite, the pre-operative 
transsexual and the post-operative 
transsexual. The stages of flux 
and change no longer exist 
once the operation has been 
performed, and the individual 
becomes fully realized within 
the role of his new sexuality. 

Many experts who are currently 
working within the area of sex 
changes and transformations 
believe that the pre-operative 
stages of transsexualism, going 
back as far as the transvestite, 
provide the individual with a 
fantasy dream which is, in itself, 
a goal. That dream allows them 

to live and grow within an 
emotional middle ground, 
where it is always possible to 
return to their former self. 

These experts insist that the 
power which these individuals 
feel over their ability to play 
with natural sexuality allows 
them to enjoy a special feeling, 
to somehow develop a feeling 
of superiority over their straighter 

After two decades of 
studying transsexuals and the 
transvestites, many psychiatrists 
have expounded on this theory 
and taken it beyond the post- 
operative stage. They claim that 
the initial motivations which 
drive a transvestite to wear 
women’s clothing oftentimes 
reflect the same motivations 
which spur on a transsexual. 

The need to outrage, to rise 
above natural fate, to parody 
societies’ sexual roles comes 
into play. And the sense of 
power and enjoyment derived 
from crossing over rules with a 
strong force within these in- 
dividuals. But, warn the ex- 
perts, that heady fantasy may 
lead to a rash decision later on 
when the transsexual decides to 
commit fully to the sex change 
operation. It is then that he or 
she has made final breach, and 
the heady game itself has become 
a solid, and oftentimes frighten- 
ing reality. 

This final, and irreversible 
commitment separates the post- 
operative transsexual to a high 
degree from pre-ops and trans- 
vestites. A practicing transvestite 
may always revert to normal 
dress codes, and simply remove 
himself from situations in which 
he dresses like a woman. His 
choice is still widely available 
to him, and it is up to him to 
make that decision. There are 
no physical commitments 
which are difficult to reverse, 
only a mental decision is needed. 

With the pre-operative trans- 
sexual, the situation may become 
a little more sticky. Many pre- 
ops engage in hormone treat- 
ments and breast implants, 
transforming their physical 
make-up up to the point of the 

Continued on page 46 


Amanda’s beauty transcends the 
sexes, allowing for a voyage into 
the true erotic essence. Cat-like 
and seductive, Amanda will 
seduce even the most hardened. 
She is demure and aggressive, in- 
nocent and worldly. Amanda cap- 
tures the basic essence of 
woman, and maintains her secret 
and mysterious powers. Amanda 
is unique and captivating! 



There are few within the reaim of 
the artiste who capture the subtle 
personna of the female. Amanda 
succeeds where many have failed. 
Her essence is one of eroticism 
unbridled, a sheer delight in the 
world of sensuality. Amanda is a 
tme siren! 



Ranier Fassbinder, the 
genius of the German fiim 
renaissance, expiores the 
iife and world of the trans- 

The transsexual is fast becomming one of the 
serious film maker’s favorite subjects. Trans- 
sexualism allows the student of humanity to 
investigate the psychology of sex, the effect of 
sexual role playing within society and the drama 
of the male-female duality within every human 
being. The most recent entry into the serious 
study of transsexualism comes from Germany 
with Ranier Werner Fassbinder’s latest film, 

In A Year of Thirteen Moons. 

At the beginning of Thirteen Moons, dkector 
Fassbinder explains that every so often a lunar 
year will contain thirteen new moons. During these 
years, those of us who live by our emotions be- 
come especially susceptible to catastrophie and 
tragedy. Fassbinder explains that in the 20th 
Century alone, there are six of these years, and 
that the last occurred in 1978. It is during this 
year that his film takes place. 

The lead character in Thirteen Moons is Elvh'a, 
a transsexual who has undergone the sex change 
operation. Elvira is a man who is living life as a 
woman. A human being whose emotional life is 
such that the peculiar effect of the thirteen moon 
year will influence and bring tragedy upon her. 

Fassbinder's technique is one of dark and 
brutal absurdity. His characters flood the screen 
quickly, only to disappear without a forced logical 
explanation of then* existence. In this film, 
Fassbinder uses Elvira as his guide through the 
various levels and stages of the inferno, with 
Elvh'a suffering each step of the way. And her 
suffering is both emotional and physical. 

In the beginning of the film, the heroine is 
picked up by some roughs who physically beat 
her up. Returning to her apartment where she 
lives with her lover, Elvira is treated not to 
sympathy and help, but to a thrashing. She is 

called a “bug” by her lover, and we begin to 
sense within the lead character a vapid state in 
which she functions as one would function in a 

The brutal world of the transsexual is then 
portrayed as Elvira strikes out, meeting characters 
of coincidence who effect her passage. Fassbinder’s 
major themes of brutality and violence are in 
great evidence in this film, creating an atmos- 
phere wherein the heroine is in a continuous state 
of violent jeopardy. There is death all around; 
suicides and murder; emotional and spiritual 
death as well. The film is peopled by those who 
exist in a purgatory sense, halfway between heaven 
and hell. It is this mood that tells us a little about 
Fassbinder’s editorial feeling towards transsexualism 
—or any sexual deviation for that matter. 

The end of the film is an ironic shocker. 
Fassbinder traces Elvira back to her boyhood 
incarnation as Erwin, an unwanted child being 
raised by nuns in Catholic school. The child is 
emotionally crippled, and seeks love and attention 
wherever he can find it. In later life, that child 
will meet a millionaire who suggests that love 
might be offered if Erwin changed himself into a 
woman. This Erwin does, only to be abandoned 
afterwards. At the end of the film, Elvira comes 
full circle back to the original perpetrator of the 
sex change, and commits suicide. The darkly ironic 
twist adds to Fassbinder’s generally pessemistic 
view of life; especially of those who live it some- 
where in the middle. 

The character of Elvira, around whom the 
film revolves, is a curious piece of writing. From 
the childhood when she was raised by nuns, 

Erwin later married and fathered children, working 
as a butcher. The sex change comes almost as a 
result of a quirky impulse rather than a result of 
a long studied inclination. It is here that Fassbinder 
avoids stereotypes in dealing with the transsexual 
problem, wandering outside the psychological 
realm. He does not attempt to make the viewer 
understand why a man would want to become a 
woman, and go through the traumatic experience 
of a sex change operation. Instead, the event 
happens and the audience is merely asked to 
accept it as a phenomenon of the modern world. 

Fassbinder himself is an avowed homosexual, 
and does not try to hide the fact. His films have 
centered around the condition of unalterable 
sexual predilections, conditions which he sees 
as somewhat fixed. Although offering a minimum 
number of psychological reasons why such 
conditions should exist, Fassbinder has always 
concentrated on the reality of the moment. The 
acceptance of that reality constitutes a major 
thematic principle which flows through all of 
his works, and reappears here in the Thirteen 

Many of the critics who have reviewed the 
film contend that Thirteen Moons is at once 
exhilirating and darkly comic. They have reacted 
to the structure in which Fassbinder uses the 
emotional Elvira as an almost comic personality 

who lives in a world where it is dangerous to 
follow ones heart. The impulses to alter himself 
into a woman was accomplished by modern 
science, and thus allowed the hero-heroine to 
permanently alter himself because of a heartfelt 
desire. That same heart leads the heroine to her 
eventual ruin. 

As a film dealing with problems of trans- 
sexuals, Thriteen Moons appears to be ineffective. 
Fassbinder has placed his characters in such bizarre 
emotional and psychological landscapes that real 
connections between their predicaments and those 
of real people are impossible. Instead, there exists 
a Fellini landscape upon which the characters 
move, attached to the real world only through 
the past and unable to cope within the nightmarish 
present. That technique is never grounds for a 
functional social drama. 

In The Year of Thirteen Moons should do 
much for Fassbinder’s career, but it will do 
little for the predicament of the transsexual. 

It is, however, unfair to ask Fassbinder to explore 
that question and to provide answers. That is not 
his style, and it is not the kind of film he makes. 

What questions the film does raise, however, is 
one of media representation of the transsexual 
movement. Exactly where does the transsexual 
stand with regards to film? Is she being studied 
with fairness and sensitivity, destined to be por- 
trayed by a sensitive actress (or actor) in a role 
that attempts to allign the experience with the 
understanding of general audiences? 

In Fassbinder’s film, we see the transsexual 
more as an instrument, a tool or metaphor, than 
as a real human being who has undergone the 
trauma of a sex change. The film is being widely 
advertised as a movie about transsexualism, but 
that is far from the truth. On its own, the film 
may very well stand as a masterpiece, as many of 
this brilliant director’s films are destined to be- 
come. But as a transsexual film, it does not live 
up to the necessary qualifications of a work that 
will alter the general public’s perceptions of this 
growing and exceptionally complex phenomenon. 

.... 43 

The auditions for one of the 
world’s most unique films 
continue. This time, the locale 
is New York City, one of the 
international centers for trans- 
sexualism. Once again, the 
promise of glory and inter- 
national recognition have drawn 
transsexuals from all over the 
East Coast. They seek fame and 
fortune, glamour and glitter as 
only Hollywood can offer. 
“Vera” is a drawing card to the 
transsexual community from 
coast to coast, and the audi- 
tions in New York City proved 
to be no exception. 


They came from all walks of life, seeking that 
elusive ray of stardom that comes to so very few. 
They gave their aii for the chance. 

The producers of “Vera“ have promised a bonan 
za film, an epic deaiing with the world of trans 











Continued from page 35 

sex change operation itself. 

For these people, the decision 
to return to their natirral sex is 
still available, with operations 
that allow for the removal of 
the implants, and the reversal of 
the hormonal treatments. The 
emotional and psychological 
reversal are oftentimes the 
most difficult for these trans- 
sexuals, and that is where the 
basic problems enter into the 

The pre-operative transsexual 
is not engaged in making him- 
self, or herself, up as a member 
of the opposite sex simply for 
the shock value, or because 
women’s clothing acts as a fetish 
upon him. His desires are rooted 
deep within his own sexual 
identity, and it is there that he 
or she feels themself to be a 
member of the opposite sex. 
Crossing over is a mental thing, 
much more than a physical 
transformation. Thus, it is with 
that mental obsession that 
physicians and psychologists 
must deal, resolving the conflict 
prior to a major decision to have 

The decision to have the 
operation, for many transsexuals, 
is akin to finding a newfound 
freedom. Many are deliriously 
happy after the operation, 
finding for the first time in 
their lives their physical identity 
to be consistant with their mental 
self-image. Renee Richards is 
a classical example of a sex 
change where the female is 
much more in tune with herself 
than the male had been. In 
numerous interviews, Miss 
Richards has testified to the 
feeling of being whole, to having 
completed herself as a result of 
the operation. And, like many 
successful sex change operatives. 
Miss Richards speaks about the 
adjustment she had to make 
once she became a woman. 

Those adjustments oftentimes 
are the most difficult and trau- 
matic for a sex change trans- 
sexual. They involve learning 

an entirely new code of manner, 
dress and habits. Speech, gesture, 
social graces and even thought 
processes are different for a 
woman, and the transsexuals 
who cross over onto the other 
side must rebuild themselves 
almost from the ground up. 

This adjustment is oftentimes 
regarded with something less 
than the full seriousness which 
it deserves. A transvestite may 
think that he has made that 
adjustment simply by dressing 
as a woman. In fact, he remains 
a man wearing women’s clothing, 
and not a male whose identity 
is that of a woman. The pre- 
operative transsexual may feel 
that the adjustment has been 
completed, but his position 
still remains somewhat locked 
because of the presence of his 
male genitalia. 

The post operative transsexual 
finds himself in a position where 
there is no choice — the adjustment 
must be made. And it is within 
this critical area that experts 
who deal with transsexualism 
are employing the basic elements 
of transsexualism and trans- 
vestism to make certain that 
transsexuals contemplating 
surgery are well prepared for 
the eventual trauma of their 

In many clinics and private 
social groups where transsexuals 
are treated, standard pre- 
operative techniques are now 
being employed. One of these 
requires that a transsexual who 
desires surgery be made to spend 
a year prior to that surgery as 
a woman. This means dressing 
every day in women’s clothing, 
and assuming all the social 
roles that being a woman 
incorporates. During this trail 
basis period, the transsexuals 
are watched closely by psychi- 
trists and social workers; they 
meet regularly with their peers; 
and they are put through an 
intensive program whereby 
self-knowledge and understand- 
ing is allowed to grow. For these 
pre-operatives, transvestism and 
pre-operative transsexualism 
helps to relieve much of the 
doubt and fear they might 
possess over making that final 

Still, even with the safety 
valve procedures now being 
employed, there are some 
transsexuals who cross the line 
and suffer dramatically as a 
result of their decision. For 
these people, there are now 
hundreds of clinics and therapy 
groups designed to help them 
make their adjustment to their 
new sex. 

One group, located in New 
York City, specializes in teaching 
male to fem^e transsexuals the 
proper way to be a woman. 

Their clinics not only deal with 
the mental problems of a trans- 
sexual after surgery, but also 
with the social and physical 
problems. They educate the 
transsexual about make-up, 
beauty care, dress and social 
graces. It is there intent to help 
the transsexual adjust to his 
new role, to give him an even 
chance of succeeding in his new 
sexual role. So far, these clinics 
have realized a certain amount of 

As we move into the 1980’s, 
the vast difference that exists 
between transvestites and trans- 
sexuals should become more 
apparent to the general public. 
Fashion itself will most 
certainly dictate the fate of the 
transvestite. As unisex fashions 
develop, and as men are given 
more and more freedom with 
their dress codes, the trans- 
vestite may all but disappear. 
Today, many men partake of the 
beauty aides and styles that 
were once the private domain 
of women. And as time continues, 
this phenomenon should become 
more widespread. 

As the presence of the trans- 
vestite dwindles, however, the 
number of transsexuals should 
rise. That is the prediction of 
most experts in the field. As 
surgical techniques improve, and 
psychological and emotional 
understanding reach new zeniths 
of sophistication, the trans- 
sexual will most certainly 
discover newer and safer roads 
open to them. And it will be 
during the decade of the 80’s 
that the confusion that exists 
today between transvestism and 
transsexualism will come to an 


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